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Different Essay Types Every Student Should Know to Achieve Success (+ Sample Outlines)

Throughout your academic years and even beyond, you will be required to write a whole lot of essays. And you’ll most likely encounter different kinds of essays, including argumentative and narrative. Different essay kinds necessitate different skills, such as thoroughly analysing a multifaceted topic in an analytical essay to arrive at a solution or incorporating figurative language into a personal essay to bring it to life. Essays vary in structure and length, with some covering multiple pages while others fitting into a few short paragraphs.

Before you are assigned to produce one of the below essay types, make sure to get acquainted with them. Understanding the similarities between different types of essay and the distinctive characteristics that set them apart will definitely help you become an excellent essayist and submit flawless work that attracts attention.

This article will discuss the four primary types of writing and the ten most popular essay types you can encounter throughout your academic career or work, so dive right in!

The four primary types of essay writing

Many of the online sources you’ll find about different essay kinds will give references to the four primary types of writing:

  • Descriptive
  • Persuasive
  • Expository
  • Narrative

These are not four distinct essay types but rather four methods of presenting an essay’s idea. These four out of nine conventional rhetorical modes include techniques such as classification and process analysis.

When writing your essay, you may be required to use one of these rhetorical modes as part of an assignment. For example, you can be asked to craft an argumentative essay on a new campus policy and whether or not it should be implemented. To explain your stance, you would utilise persuasive writing tactics such as expressing your opinion regarding the proposed policy and its anticipated consequences.

Understanding the four primary types of writing will help you better grasp the texts with which you work. When reading an essay, try to identify the author’s type of writing by analysing the tone, structure, vocabulary and how they communicate their ideas. Doing so will allow you to examine all types of essays deeper and develop more powerful ones based on the gained insights.

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What are the types of essay?

In general, there are 16 essay types — all of which argue, explain or narrate something to the readers — but today, we will focus on the 10 most popular among professors. So, let’s get right into it!

1. Narrative essay

A narrative essay tells stories about people’s lives. They are told the same way as fictional short stories, with characters, compelling narrative, setting, climax and resolution.

Narrative essays are written in either the third person (what happened to someone else) or the first person (what happened to the writer directly). They should be enjoyable and fascinating to read, so you, the author, usually have the freedom to choose a topic that speaks to you.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you give a hint of what you or your character learnt.
  • Body, where you tell the story from start to finish.
  • Conclusion, where you reflect on what you or your character learnt from the story’s experience.

2. Expository essay

Expository essays are types of essay that use critical thinking and research to present a topic in greater depth. One of the good examples of this essay type is newspaper articles, which deliver short, factual information to the reader. Writing expository essays necessitates a clear outline, evidence-based conclusions and a compelling thesis statement.

Although expository writing conveys information, it’s not the same as technical writing. An expository essay “exposes” the truth about a certain issue rather than just providing information about it.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you introduce the issue and hint at a deeper truth.
  • Body, where you use evidence to explain more about the issue and uncover the truth and/or the topic’s implications in the final body paragraph.
  • Conclusion, where you summarise the provided information and its overall significance.

3. Argumentative essay

An argumentative essay thoroughly researches a topic to offer the writer’s argument to the reader. In a well-structured essay of this type, the writer makes a claim and elaborates on how logic and evidence support their claim.

Strong argumentative essays employ rhetorical devices to bolster the writer’s points while addressing the opposing argument or counterclaim. When deciding on a topic for the argumentative essay, pick something you are passionate about and support your claims with credible sources.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you introduce your topic and claim in your thesis statement.
  • Body, where you provide evidence to support your stance and offer counterclaims.
  • Conclusion, where you restate your point and briefly explain how you proved it.

4. Descriptive essay

Just like narrative essays, a descriptive essay sets the stage for the reader. However, unlike a narrative essay, a descriptive essay does not narrate a story from start to finish. It’s more like a painting, a written experience you can nearly see.

Descriptive essays make extensive use of sensory elements to explain how something looks, smells, sounds, feels or tastes. A well-written descriptive essay also employs similes, hyperboles, metaphors and other kinds of figurative language to fully immerse the reader in the experience.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you introduce the chosen topic with an enticing hook sentence.
  • Body, where you use figurative language and sensory details to describe your topic.
  • Conclusion, where you provide a summary of the paper and conclude with a noteworthy descriptive sentence.

5. Informative essay

An informative essay informs the reader about a topic in the same way that expository essays do. However, the primary goal of informative essays is to educate the reader rather than to expose them to any truth.

Informative essays require a great deal of research and thorough investigation. If you have the freedom of choice, pick a topic that fascinates you because you will learn a lot about it during the writing process.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you introduce the topic with an intriguing fact or statistic.
  • Body, where you use evidence to explain more about the topic.
  • Conclusion, where you restate the thesis and end with a broad statement about your topic.

6. Persuasive essay

A persuasive essay is one of the most interesting yet complicated types of academic essays, as it necessitates the writer to persuade the reader to agree with them. A good example of this essay type is speeches, where politicians try to convince the audience to take their side.

When writing persuasive essays, you are usually expected to use the same strategies as in argumentative essays. However, persuasive essays require emotional appeals and personal anecdotes (stories about yourself or others), as opposed to the evidence and logic required by persuasive essays. They also have a call to action at the end, which motivates the reader to take action.

all types of essays

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you use an emotive hook to pique the reader’s interest.
  • Body, where you use dramatic language, emotional appeals and personal anecdotes to persuade the reader to take your side.
  • Conclusion, where you urge the reader to take immediate action.

7. Personal narrative essay

A personal narrative essay is a type of narrative writing in which the writer examines how a particular experience shaped or affected them. Unlike narrative essays, this essay type is always factual and autobiographical and centres around a single theme or event from the writer’s life.

College admission essays are also a form of a personal narrative in which an applicant explores how a prior event or person helped them become their present self. A memoir is another example of a personal narrative. The only difference is that it’s usually longer.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you set the scene and tone of the narrative.
  • Body, where you tell your detailed story from start to finish and end with a meaningful climax.
  • Conclusion, where you reflect on your experience and describe how it changed or shaped you.

8. Reflective essay

A reflective essay examines an idea, observation or concept through the eyes of the writer. This essay type may contain emotional or humorous writing, but it should not reveal a lot about the writer and the reader.

Personal narrative and reflective essays are both types of creative writing. However, reflective essays are more personal and do not have to tell a story or be written in a narrative format. A good example is a journal entry. It doesn’t tell a story from beginning to end but rather explores how something or someone made the writer feel.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you provide detailed information about the topic and introduce your thesis statement.
  • Body, where you reflect on the chosen topic.
  • Conclusion, where you restate the thesis statement.

9. Analytical essay

Analytical types of essays examine a topic in great depth and with critical thought. They utilise a balanced approach to thoroughly examine something, whether it’s a piece of writing, a scientific discovery element or a crucial historical event.

Like reflective essays, analytical essays are focused on a specific issue and are very detailed. While that issue may have broader implications in the paper, each sentence has to connect back to the essay’s core.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you introduce the issue and discuss the various levels of analysis done.
  • Body, where you begin with the lowest analysis level and work your way up to the highest, linking each sentence back to your thesis.
  • Conclusion, where restate the thesis and analysis levels.

10. Definition essay

A definition essay defines an idea or term. This can be anything from technical notions and vocabulary words to historical terms and abstract concepts that a writer wishes to clarify for readers.

It may seem like this will only be a sentence or two, but well-written definition essays do much more than provide brief definitions. They can be reflective when referring to key concepts, expository when revealing little-known facts and argumentative when a writer has a position to defend.

Sample outline:

  • Introduction, where you state the concept or word and provide its definition in your thesis statement.
  • Body, where you expand on your thesis and provide alternative definitions and implications of the concept or word.
  • Conclusion, where you restate the definition and how you expanded on it.

Now that you have an idea about the most popular essay types and their peculiar features, there’s only one thing left — write the paper itself. Should you get stuck at any point in your essay, have a complicated topic or a tight deadline, you can always count on our professional essay writing service. With over 2,000 top-rated subject-matter experts in different type of essays and subjects in a team, rest assured you’ll receive a flawless, Turning-safe copy worthy of professor’s praise!


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